tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 31, 2011 5:00pm-7:00pm EST
class "c" fireworks that. mere possession a 15-year felony. brooke, he was also charged with a terrorism charge that will carry 20-year felony. serious charges in this case. >> serious, serious charges. sunny hostin, we will follow that and good to see you. see you back here tomorrow for on the case. for now, i'm brooke baldwin. thanks so much for being with me the past two hours. i'll send this off to washington and my colleague wolf blitzer. wolf, two. brooke, thanks very much. happening now, egypt's newly installed vice president now in talks with the opposition and promising constitutional reform, but with the country already on the brink, it could be too little too late. also, the evolving white house reaction to the crisis with the administration blind-sided by the upheaval in egypt, and potential fallout from the crisis that couple pact all of a surging, surging oil prices. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
tension in egypt ratcheting up today one week into a grooths uprising demanding an end to 30 years of authoritarian rule by the president, hosni mubarak. we're following all. latest developments as thousands and thousands of people continue to defy the curfew. a team of heavily armed u.s. marines has been sent to the u.s. embassy in cairo to provide additional security. more than 500 americans already have been evacuated from egypt aboard five flights with many more planned, and protesters now say they are organizing what they call a million-man march through cairo and alexandria tomorrow. let's get all of the late forest cairo right now. cnn's anderson cooper is standing by and is joining us on the phone. anderson, tell us what you saw and heard on this day? >> reporter: well, you know, wolf, today is the seventh day. it's now the end of that day. it is midnight here in cairo. largely a peaceful day in the
streets of cairo. a much heavier military presence by the egyptian army on the streets. they are clearly trying to have a show of force. they are a much heavier hand in terms of controlling access to some of the areas where people have been protesting, controlling some of the show points to that, limiting where people can go in order to get to the protest, but the protest -- the people turned out still in large numbers down in liberation square. i was down there for several hours today, again, just thousands of people chanting, demanding that mubarak go, and no matter what mubarak has done in terms of shuffling his cabinet, appointing new ministers today, they say it is not enough, that he's got to go, and that is their bottom line. >> i understand, anderson, you had a chance to speak with mohamed el-baradei, the nobel peace prize winner and former head of the international atomic energy agency now emerging as a key opposition figure to president mubarak. how did that go? >> reporter: well, i talked to
him early this morning. he had spent a part of the evening, last night down in liberation square addressing the crowd. you know, he only got here on thursday, so he doesn't have a huge base of support within -- within egypt, but clearly his name has been rising here. his popularity has been rising, and now he says he's been talking to other members of the organizers of these protests. they have talked about the importance of forming some sort of a national unity government if and when hosni mubarak leaves. i asked mohamed el-baradei if he would be interesting in one day running for president in egypt. he said he's not thinking that far but certainly is keeping his options open, and if he was called to do that, but he is adamant, again, that nothing short of hosni mubarak stepping down from power would be acceptable at this point. >> is there any indication you're seeing at all, anderson, that mubarak is getting ready to do such a thing? >> reporter: no indication at
all. i mean, you know, he's appointed new members of his government. he's made no public statements giving any sense that he is going to be giving up power. in fact, as you know, the person he's appointed to be his vice president and the former head of the intelligence service, certainly a man who is known for having a firm hand. also, all day military helicopters circle overhead while the protesters are down on the ground in liberation square, and the police have not returned to the inner part of cairo. they were -- some traffic police were on the outskirts of cairo today on the streets. that's the first time they had been seen in quite a while since they were pulled back, and, again, the egyptian military still has a very strong hand here. they have said, one military spokesman made a statement, saying that the military would not harm people here, but -- but it remains to be seen exactly what that means and exactly what's going to happen in the next couple of days. >> finally, anderson, when you speak with protesters
themselves, whether at the main liberation square there, tahrir square or other places, what -- beyond saying they despise president mubarak and the regime, what do they say about the united states? >> reporter: without doubt, 2-1 they say they are disappointed in the statements they have heard from the obama administration. they would like a much firmer siding of the united states government with the protesters. they -- you know, there's a lot of very intelligent people among these protesters, a lot of them who have spent time in the united states who say, look, we understand the united states feels it's walking, you know, a tight rope here, to use that cliche, but they say, look, time is now to side with the protesters and to be on the right side of history. >> anderson cooper will have a lot more coming up later tonight on "a c360." anderson, will stay in very, very close touch. certainly the white house is walking a delicate line right now, on the one hand calling, and i'm quoting now, for an
orderly transition, that's the phrase they are using, but at the same time saying it's not the place of the united states to support or oppose the ouster of the egyptian president hosni mubarak. let's go to our white house correspondent dan lothian who is working this part of the story for us. all right. what's the latest, dan, because it seems that there's been a shift, a subtle but significant shift in what we're hearing from the administration? >> reporter: that's right, i mean, first of all, this white house is being careful in the words that are uttered from the podium or the president or even the secretary of state because they don't want, as one top aide said, they don't want their words to create any more volatility on the streets of egypt, but the wording has changed. the white house insisting though that the message has not. the wording, where they are talking about orderly transition. you heard that from the secretary of state yesterday. the president had that in a statement released over the weekend, and then robert gibbs again reinforcing that message today. they don't want to meddle, at least according to the white house, in the internal affairs of egypt. and they are pushing back.
there's suggestions that this white house is calling for a regime change. >> transition means change, so by using those words, is the administration now admitting that president mubarak should leave? >> again, dan, that's -- that is -- i do believe orderly transition means change, and what we've advocated from the very beginning is that the way egypt looks and operates must change. >> if he's the leader though, are you not saying that he should be changed or removed from office by saying that? >> again, dan, that is not for -- that is not for our country or our government to determine. i don't think people that seek greater freedom are looking for somebody else to pick what and how that change looks like. >> reporter: tom donlon, the national security adviser, continues to take the lead on this, holding briefings with other officials here at the white house, including the
president. the president getting updates throughout the day, and i should point out, wolf, that in addition to the national security team, president obama inviting experts on egypt from outside the administration to come in and help decide the way forward there. wolf? >> we'll be speaking with one of those outside experts who was invited into the white house momentarily, dan. stand by. after days of absence police are returning to the streets of cairo. frederik pleitgen is our man on the scene as well. fred, tell our viewers what you're seeing that is obviously a shift from yesterday. >> reporter: well, it's a little bit of a shift, wolf. we are seeing some traffic cops on the beat that we haven't seen over the past couple of days. in fact, i actually walked past the makeshift checkpoint here just a couple of yards from where we are here a couple of minutes ago, and there were actually a couple of traffic police trying to keep the police and man that checkpoint together with some of these people who have been arming themselves and trying to defend the streets on their own, so it was sort of a
makeshift checkpoint that was going on and they were stopping cars together. it seems as though the traffic police is one form of police that a lot of people here are willing to accept. in large parts of the city. there still really isn't anything in the way of law enforcement on the streets, especially if you get outside of the downtown area here in cairo and closer into the outskirts there. it still is quite a lawless and chaotic sort of environment, although i do have to say that a lot of these community militias that are forming, a lot of people who are banding together. they are actually doing quite a good job of keeping the peace and we were walking around some of these areas outside of downtown. i have to say we felt quite safe coming up to the checkpoints that were manned by ordinary people. wolf? >> the community militias, what kind of weapons? i understand that they just have the basic elementary weapons to protect themselves but really not many guns and things like that. >> reporter: well, no, yeah, that's exactly right. they have the basic and elementary are exactly the right words here. i mean, ear talking about
sawed-off vac you'll cleaner pipes and clubs and 2 x 4s. some have samurai swords and some have old hunting rifles and pistols, basic things but on the other hand, the alleged looters are people going around trying to protect themselves against. they really aren't armed with anything different either. i mean, i saw a couple of guys who are alleged looters come by and guys on the back of motorcycles carrying swords so it really is something where enough of these guys band together they can do a pretty good job of keeping our neighborhood safe and at some of the streets you'll have a checkpoint every 50 yards so if you want to go through there, you are going to get checked. so it's a pretty effective system in most areas, and it appears as though the ones we were in at least seems as though they are doing quite a good job of keeping themselves safe, though walking around at night, still here is not really an advisable thing to do, wolf. >> quickly, fred. what about food and water, basics? are they running out of those
things? >> reporter: yes. it's a big problem. it's food, water, of course, sort of basic groceries as well as gasoline there that are becoming big issues. there are shortages here. there are, of course, a lot of stores that simply aren't opening because the owners are afraid to open them and, on the other hand, there is also a lot of trouble getting this stuff. we were seeing people who were still able to go to some grocery stores and buy some stuff, but we're also hearing a lot of them are sort of stacking up on these things so that they can survive several days. i actually visited a couple of americans who are here currently, who are trying to leave, but they are not going to get a flight for a couple of days, and they said that when they saw this sort of happening, when they saw this materializing this, situation, they went out and bought as much as they could, simply to be able to survive a couple of days, but, of course, at some point that's going to run out as well. it really is a big concern for the people, not only that, but also for a lot of them it's very difficult to get your hands on any cash because all the atms, or a lot of the atms, aren't
working at this point. wolf? >> fred, stand by. we'll be getting back to you, all of our correspondents on the scene there, eyewitnesses to history under folding in egypt. right now with egypt in charge of a vital shipping lane, there's also growing concern about the flow of oil out of the middle east. all of us potentially could soon feel the impact in the form of higher prices. and fear that the upheaval will spread. one country in particular is very worried it may next be in line. and a major blow to health care reform here in the united states. a federal judge says the entire law must be declared void, so what happens now? you know, when i grow up, i'm going to own my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i'm going to work with kids. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. i want to fall in love again.
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jack cafferty, certainly closely following the uprising in egypt. let's go to jack. he's got "the cafferty file." jack? >> first came iran, then tunisia, now egypt, and as popular uprisings sweep through the middle east, it is hard to underestimate the role being played by social media and new technologies, twitter, facebook, youtube, cell phones, even cable news outlets, are putting tremendous amount of power into the hands of ordinary people, and don't think for a minute that the rest of the arab world isn't watching closely. for starters, these communications tools allow ordinary citizens to plan and organize protests in a way that was unthinkable just a few short years ago. they can spread the word about mass demonstrations, ensuring that more people will show up and in turn the sheer size of
some of these protests makes tim possible or close to impossible for the government to crack down and stop them. also, thanks to facebook and twitter, the protests aren't happening in a vacuum like they may have decades ago. when young egyptians take to the streets by the thousands, the world is seeing it and hearing about it in real time, through texts and tweets and pictures and videos, and it's why governments like egypt or iran have tried to crack down on the internet and some of these websites. in the case of egypt, social media have also put pressure on washington, d.c., to act more qui quickly. with so much information leaking out it became impossible for this country to downplay what was going on in egypt and stay out of it. no surprise that other dictators in the middle east are worried, and they should be. they could be next. here's the question. how have social media and technology affected these popular uprisings like the ones we're seeing in egypt? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile for
us to comment on my blog. it's a different world out there. >> certainly it. i've been a journalist like you, jack, for a long time and follow a lot of this on twitter and get a lot of information from there so i'm not necessarily all that reliable, but a lot very reliable and it's a useful source of information, so it's a good thing to have. >> it's the enemy of people who -- of the dictators who don't want the public to know anything. >> certainly it s. >> an uneducated public is the dictator's greatest friend, and these social websites are eating into that in a big way. >> yeah. you're not going to see any of those social websites allowed to be used in north korea where i recently visited. >> oh, no. >> jack cafferty will be back later. hosni mubarak shows no sign, at least so far, of stepping down though some believe he'll eventually have no choice. let's get some more from cnn's fareed zakaria, host of "fareed
zakaria gps" that airs sunday here on sunday. i don't know if you heard jimmy carter who brokered the initial peace preeti back in 1979. he said over the weekend, quote, mubarak will have to leave. is that a fact? will mubarak have to leave? >> i think he will. he's a dead man walking. i don't see how he's able to sustain power with seven days of protests, million-man marches planned. the military has in effect signaled something very important. they have signaled that they are not going to crack down on the protesters which is only going to have the -- the effect of empowering the protesters, of bringing more people out on the street, so the military has decided, i'm reading code here, but the military has decided that in order to save its own legitimacy, its own popularity, and the regime that it is the backbone of, it is not going to do anything to -- to end the calls for mubarak's resignation. that's what the marches are all about. that is the central demand.
whether he -- whether he -- you know, what i think the military is probably trying to think through right now is does he have to go tomorrow, or can he go in an orderly fashion? remember, he's got to run for re-election anyway in september, mubarak, so there's already a point at which his regime expires or his term expires. i don't even think he'll be able to last that long, but in any event, whether it's weeks or months, hosni mubarak's regime, reign in egypt is over. >> some have said he's living in a bubble right now. he will really doesn't appreciate what's going on in the streets of cairo and alexandria and elsewhere. is there a world leader or a group of world leaders who should simply get on the phone, call him up and say, president mubarak, it's over. you need an orderly transition, step down. let the vice president take over. call for elections in 180 days? >> there's only one person who could do it. i think he's going to be impervious to anybody else, and that is barack obama. this is not a -- a protest or a
revolt or revolution that has the united states centrally involved. one of the fascinating things about this revolt, both in tunisia and egypt, is the things you don't hear on the arab street. palestine, israel, and the united states. now you're beginning to hear a little bit about the u.s. hand how it shouldn't support mubarak, but basically these have been internal organic revolts, but the one outside actor that can play a role is washington, and if obama were to call hosni mubarak and tell him, look, we -- we honor you for the support you have given the united states, for the moderating role you've had over these three decades, but it is clear that you cannot stay in power. you know, have lost the contract with your people. you've lost legitimacy. plan for an orderly departure, and you will be able to leave with some dignity, and if he does, that i do believe that -- that it's possible that he'll be able to leave with dignity. egypt is a very strong state. it's not going to collapse, but
he does need to go. >> quickly, fareed, i spoke with the former jordanian minister yesterday, and he said it's very possible that the unrest in egypt could spread is to jordan and maybe elsewhere as well. how likely is that? >> egypt is the heart and soul of the arab world. when arabs watch movies, they come from egypt. when they listen to popular music, it comes from egypt. egypt is the place that trends emanate from in the arab world, from school onward. yes, this is going to be an earthquake in the arab world. the saudi monarchy has been able to bribe its people into kwai essence so they may be safe, but i think this will have repercussions. jordan has to be worried. you're already seeing things in yemen and seeing things in sudan. this is big. this is going to continue. >> it's going to be huge. all right, fareed, thanks very, very much. a lot more coming up on what's going on in egypt and indeed in
the region and what it means for all of us. that's come up. also, other important news. buy a gun, undergo a background check. new york city mayor michael bloomberg says he has the undercover video to prove that's not necessarily always the case. and the midwest bracing for the big one. why airlines are now telling passengers they had better change their travel plans. wrench? wrench.
health care reform takes a big legal hit. lisa sill vester is here monitoring that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. tell our viewers what happened. >> yes, this is quite a big development, wolf. sweeping health care reform championed and signed last year by president obama has been declared unconstitutional. the 78-page ruling by a federal judge in florida comes in a challenge by 26 states to sections of the patient protection and affordable care act. it strikes down the mandate requiring most americans to buy health insurance or face stiff penalties. the justice department says it will appeal the ruling in the 11th circuit court of appeals. fema's administrator says the huge winter storm bearing down on the central u.s. should be taken seriously. airlines are warning passengers with midwest connections this week to go ahead and change their plans without penalty. forecasters say parts of missouri and illinois could see more than a foot of snow tomorrow, and cnn meteorologist rob marciano says folks should
be bracing for a three and a half day event. new york mayor michael bloomberg says undercover video proves it. guns are still easy to get. bloomberg today unveiled video of new york investigators buying weapons at an arizona gun show despite telling vendors they probably would not pass a background check. bloomberg challenged lawmakers to close the so-called gun show loophole that lets buyers purchase weapons from private sellers without checking their background. >> thanks very much, and i know you're working on another important story for us. just to let our viewers know, oil, egypt, the price of gas. we're working on that story. >> we'll have that for you. >> keeping a close eye on the situation in egypt, including growing shortages of vital supplies in egypt, including food, fuel and a lot more. we're going back live to cairo. plus, how iran could come out a big winner in all of this potentially, at least. details of what that country is
and i'm quoting now from one era to the other. egypt's newly -- newly placed vice president says the embattled president hosni mubarak has asked him to start working on constitutional reform, and as the white house calls for an orderly transition, the state department hopes to have 1,000 americans evacuated from egypt by the end of the day. we'll have a lot more for you on this part of the story. the unrest certainly making it increasingly difficult for egyptians to live their normal lives with shortages of food, fuel and cash spreading. cnn's arwa damon has more from cairo. >> reporter: wolf, helicopters have been overhead for hours. demonstrators still defying the curfew, but away from the capital and tahrir square, what we're seeing is a city very much struggling to survive. this is not the capital that many egyptians recognize. nor is it one they want the outside world to see. residents line up at a popular
bread factory amid fears of a food shortage. as we are filming from a bridge, this man starts yelling at us to stop. why are you filming, he shouts? is this a nice image? it's ugly. he threatens to break our camera. in the chaos at another bread line, a woman tells us they want mubarak to stay. the men angrily yell at us to leave. this is the second neighborhood that we've come to where we've seen people getting incredibly aggressive, not wanting to be filmed in this kind of a situation. the same woman meets us at the car and apologizes for the way we are treated. it's because of this terrible situation that we are in, she explains. we are good people. we're sorry. most shops in cairo are shut. it's not just food shortages that are of rising concern. another problem that egyptians are facing is just getting
money. banks are all closed. the screens on atm machines dark. if a person doesn't have cash in hand, they are facing a serious problem. across the capital, normal life has been paralyzed. a number of gas stations that we've been driving by have been closed. some of them because of security reasons where owners don't want to be filmed. others like at this one because they quite simply ran out of fuel and are not sure when stocks are going to be arriving. away from the demonstrators we found a population increasingly frustrated and angry. tell us what right what is on your mind and what are you so upset? >> i am upset with the revoluti revolutions. it doesn't represent us. it doesn't represent our opinion. we're here sticking with hosni mubarak only. give him time to work, and then he can go, but peacefully. >> reporter: who is going to govern egypt, she asks, switching to arabic?
a group of youth? don't demonstrate. talk to the government. why everybody is so angry with the media? >> because it doesn't give a very good picture about us. >> reporter: an argument breaks out with another woman, and we are again forced to stop filming. however torn this nation is becoming, the demonstrators are determined to weather it out, no matter what. what are you doing about things like food, money, because we're hearing there's a food shortage, there's a cash shortage. >> people here are supporting each other. my neighbor gave us food and gave us water and all what we need, okay? all the stores also are supporting the people. >> reporter: for some, these chaotic events are the stirrings of freedom. for other egyptians they mark the onset of anarchy. with the demonstrations expected to intensify, there is widespread worry of more violence and more shortages. wolf? >> arwa damon on the scene for
us, thank you. iranian leaders are certainly closely watching all the developments in egypt. if the government in egypt falls, tehran could be one of the winners. cnn's brian todd is here in "the situation room." he's looking into this part of the story for us. what's the iranian regime's attitude towards all of this? >> el withing right now they are looking at this and actually kind of enjoying it in some kind of odd way, wolf, but we're exploiting that at the moment. part of this, as you know, is a religious conflict. iran is shiia, its main rivals in the middle east, and there are all sorts of factors at play in this intense rivalry and the fact that egypt is wobbling right now, experts say, benefits iran. more than 1,000 miles away from these protests, leaders of another middle east power watch with enthusiasm. iran's parliament speaker says the time has reached to overcome puppet autocratic regimes by relying on the islamic teachings. experts say iran's leaders would welcome the downfall of the
mubarak regime, widely seen as perhaps their most bitter arch rival in the region. how does iran stand to benefit from what's going on in egypt right now? >> there's nothing than iran wants more than instability in the middle east, particularly among the autocratic leaders, even if they are sunni ought mathocratic leaders. why? because they hope eventually these leaders will have to give way to a more islamist oriented political establishments that may or may not be interested in aligning themselves with iran, but at least are no longer aligned with the united states. >> reporter: according to western and diplomatic sources we interviewed, iran has agents inside most middle east countries, and the mistrust between iran's leaders and egyptian president hosni mubarak is poisonous. a 2009 u.s. diplomatic cable posted on wikileaks says mubarak and his advisers are now convinced that tehran is working to weaken egypt through creation of hezbollah cells, support of the muslim brotherhood and destabilization of gaza. the muslim brotherhood, once
very militant, now more political, is an opposition group in egypt which gave birth to the hamas movement. hamas, the major power in gaza, a dangerous threat to israel and supported by iran, is considered a terrorist group by the u.s., but experts are divided about possible corrections between iran and the muslim brotherhood. >> i'm not sure that iran has much of, you know, a foothold in egypt through the muslim brotherhood. i don't see any evidence of that. >> reporter: plenty of other tensions. mubarak has worked hard to prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and rivals on another key front. does this instability in egypt benefit iran from an oil-producing and shipping standpoint? >> absolutely. unrest in egypt has already bolstered oil prices, and they have gone above $100 per barrel, and -- and who does that benefit? that benefits iran. iran earns 80% of its hard currency earnings from crude oil revenues.
>> reporter: it's said more instability in egypt is the best case scenario for iran pointing out that iran is facing grave uncertainties economically right now. he says if egypt continues to boil, oil prices continue to rise, iran's leaders would use that to mask some of their own economic problems for their people. wolf, they have been known to do that in the past. >> there's one school of thought that believes that a change of government, a change of regimes in egypt, would not necessarily benefit the iranian regime. >> we have to remember that even if mubarak goes, what is is left in egypt, whoever takes power. egypt will still be a sunni muslim country so they will have that rivalry anyway and what if mubarak goes and is replaced by a coalition government, the iraniira iranian opposition could look at that and say that could work for us and revolt against the mullahs like in 2009 so the mullahs could be sweating that out a little bit. >> they probably are because what's happening in tunisia
could inspire people in iran to stand up to their regime and other places in the area as well. this just in to "the situation room." the ministry of information of egypt has just said they are going to shut down all mobile phone systems, all networks, mobile phone networks in egypt over the next few hours in advance of this so-called million-man march, a demonstration that's scheduled tomorrow for egypt. they are going to shut down all cell service, mobile phone service going in and out of egypt. we're watching this. this is a formal announcement just coming into "the situation room" from the ministry of information in egypt, potenti potentially a very, very significant development. clearly the egyptian government wants this stopped, this -- these protests, thee demonstrations, and they believe if they shut down the mobile phone systems maybe that will help. we'll see if it has the opposite effect. the political crisis in egypt
could have unintended consequences for the rest of the world, especially the oil-hungry world. what happens in the narrow waters could mean higher prices at gas pump. [ beeping ] ♪ my country ♪ 'tis of thee ♪ sweet land ♪ of liberty ♪ of thee i sing [ laughs ] ♪ oh, land ♪ where my fathers died ♪ land of the pilgrims' pride ♪ from every mountainside ♪ let freedom ring
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one of the most critical allies in the middle east on the brink right now, so how is the white house handling this crisis in egypt? let's talk about if with our senior political analyst, david gergen and gloria borger. gloria, i know you've been doing some reporting on this. was the white house caught by surprise by these fast moving developments in egypt? >> i think not in egypt, but i do think from reporting this out today, both inside and outside the administration, it's fair to say that tunisia caught them by surprise, not egypt, tunisia. tunisia caught the world by surprise, and in taking a step back, after tunisia occurred, i think the question some in the administration are asking could there have been a way to predict, for example, the departure of ben ali in tunisia? they make the case that it's very hard to predict revolutions. you can't predict what millions of people are going to do. you don't have a critical ball that way. but once tunisia occurred, they say it was all hands on deck.
they knew exactly what could occur in egypt, and so they say yes, they were ready for it. >> i raise the question because, david, here's what the secretary of state hillary clinton said last tuesday, and let me play it for you and our viewers. >> our assessment is that the egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the egyptian people. >> and then two days later on thursday the vice president of the united states, joe biden, was on pbs and said this. >> i think that it would be -- i would not refer to him as a dictator. >> he would not refer to president mubarak as a dictator. those statements have caused a lot of consternation on the streets of cairo and alexandria saying this administration was -- was out of touch with reality. >> well, wolf, i think in
fairness, they did not foresee tunisia coming, but no one else in the world foresaw that. >> that's right. >> i've been at the world economic forum in davos, switzerland, and can i tell there you was widespread surprise, universal surprise, really, that tunisia happened. >> exactly. >> once it spread to egypt, i think where the administration is vulnerable is it did not really foresee that mubarak would be so close to being toppled as today. as of last tuesday they thought he was like hi to remain in power, that he could ride it out, and they made these statements in retrospect that i think they wish they hadn't made but as time goes on, they are in now a very delicate, delicate process of trying to disentangle themselves from mubarak and try to figure out how to have a soft landing in egypt the way they did in the philippines when the marcos regime was toppled as opposed to the hard landing of the kind that occurred in iran when the shah was toppled. >> gloria, is there any evidence that the political leadership at the top is now telling the
intelligence community, hey guys, where were you? we were surprised by all of this. >> no, i don't have any evidence of that. it could be occurring, but i don't have any of it. look, the problem that the administration has and that david is talking about, yes, the whole world did not predict tunisia. where they seemed a little flat-footed was in their message and how aggressively they decided to respond to what was going on in egypt, you know. they went from one message to, you know, he's not a dictator. he's trying to do what he can to let's have a transition, and so i think what's confusing is what message the administration wants to send, and i think what we saw was that they were a bit flat-footed in that because we've seen it evolve. >> all right, guys. we're going to continue this. thanks so much. david gergen and gloria borger, lots to dissect here. meanwhile, millions and millions of barrels of oil passing through egypt's suez
canal, and there's real concern right now that the upheaval in egypt will result in higher oil prices that all of us will feel at the pump and beyond. plus, a u.s. soldier suspected of passing american secrets to wikileaks. he's now claiming a connection to the unrest in egypt. details of what he's saying and more coming up.
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actually the news isn't great, but the idea of social media is. governments and large businesses no longer have total control over the media and public opinion. it's a great counterbalance to the power struggle in the world. sean in michigan, dictatorships can only thrive when they control information. as long as those who are being repress asked find a way to get the information out, the dictators will have a hard time and will likely crumble all the more quickly. social media is only one way to spread information, as long as the internet exists, that may be a bit much and some in the news media are leading the strurs conclude that the egyptian protest remembers mostly secular, non-violent, not anti-american and somewhat more westernized than protesters that we've seen in other arab countries. to that end where are the egyptian women protesters? i've seen only men. john writes this instability technology is wonderful. it shows the whole world in real
time what monsters govern these countries. after 30 years of repression, mubarak is doomed. my only hope is that democracy will take over. it seems democracy would be the logical choice since facebook and twitter are the essence of free speech. ahmed says social media are redefining the dynamics of popular revolt. the need to drive a revolution is being replaced by the collective consciousness of the masses. joyce writes, oh, my god, if we had had all this technology back in the '60s and '70s is, how different the united states would be today. think how many folks would have shown up for martin luther king, the march on washington and our own days of rage. and what would have happened at kent state. go to cnn.blog/cafferty file. >> whole new world out there. with egypt in charge of a vital shipping lane, there's growing concern right now about the flow of oil out of the middle east. all of us could soon feel the
after praying, a ho test ter holds a sign protesting mubarak. and an egyptian soldier shoots rounds into the air to disperse the crowd. pictures worth 1,000 words. egypt's upheaval has many fearful the country's greatest treasures are at risk. the government rolls out modern weapons to protect egypt's ancient heritage. later, why the man accused of turning documents over to wiki leaks is feels a direct connection to what's happening in egypt. we'll be right back. good night, stuffy. >> ( yawning ) >> good night, outdated. >> ( click ) >> good night, old luxury and all of your wares. good night, bygones everywhere. >> ( engine revs ) >> good morning, illumination. good morning, innovation. good morning, unequaled inspiration. >> ( heartbeats )
anti-egyptian government protests springing up all over the place, entirely here in the united states. allan chernoff is standing outside the egyptian mission to the united nations in new york with what's going on there. tell our viewers. >> reporter: wolf, the rally is breaking up just about now. we've had about 250 people here in front of the egyptian mission to the united nations, just one block away from the u.n. people screaming and shouting, down, down, with mubarak. egypt must be free. we've also heard a fair amount of criticism of u.s. policy. one sign over here that many people were holding said no more u.s. dollars for the bloody mubarak dictatorship. there were some cheers not palestinians, as well. one man in the crowd told me if
there was a regime change, then the boarder with gaza must open up. a fairly wide range of opinion over here in terms of what should happen, but the unionfying force here among the protesters is that the president of egypt must step down. wolf? >> allan chernoff at the united nations, thanks very much. and to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." a stunning announcement for possible change in egypt. what the country's new vice president, the first one in 30 years, has just revealed. stand by for that. egypt's biggest protests yet may be looming. the scene in cairo captured by one of our viewers. wait till you see the looks on one soldier's face as he tried to control the crowd. looking for answers, the white house turns to a number of experts on egypt. we're talking with one of them live this hour. i'm wolf blitzer. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com egypt's president hosni pew mubarak is feeling the heat right now. his new vice president omar suleiman said on state television today mubarak has asked him to start working immediately on "real political reform." right after that, the vice president's office said talks with opposition parties are already under way. right now, it's 1:00 a.m. in egypt, a monday scene in cairo's liberation square may be the calm though before the storm. in just a few hours, massive demonstrations billed as a million man march are planned across the country. and now we're learning the egyptian government is shutting down, get this shutting down all mobile phone networks in the country ahead of the march. already, essential supplies are running very, very low. there have been long lines in front of bread shops, food markets, gas stations and banks are closed.
atm machines are in the dark. a lack of security and a atlantic cash paralyzing the egyptian capital right now. the egyptian military isn't just guarding the streets and strategic locations. modern weapons are now protecting the very symbols of ancient egypt. cnn's ivan watson joins us live now from cairo with more. what's going on? s>> reporter: wolf, on the 7th day of protests, the crowd in cairo's central square was bigger than saturday's crowd, was bigger than sunday's crowd, bigger than ever. out in the streets of the capital, we saw troops, thanks, armored personnel carriers fanning out, a dramatic increase in the amount of troops in the streets of the city. take a look at this report. >> one of the world's most famous landmarks now guarded by
army thanks. >> soldiers have been deployed all around the stet and the thanks are even parked here at one of the ancient wonders of the world, the great pyramids of giza. an army officer insisted the pyramids are still open for tourists, but the soldiers wouldn't let us come any closer. on monday, the troop presence was dramatically increased in cairo. soldiers trained to defend their country from foreign enemies now taking on the duties of largely absent police. an effort to restore law and order in a frightened city bearing the scars of several days and nights of unrest. >> this is part of what has egyptians so scared right now. a number of hotels and cabarets and casinos like this that were toed and looted in the first days of the protests. most of the businesses in town are still closed. with the normal working day cut in half by a curfew that started at 3:00 p.m.
egyptians had a few hours to shop for groceries. among those foraging for food in largely empty streets this family from taiwan stranded while on vacation, hoping to catch a flight out of the country on tuesday. after a week of sweeping historic changes, some egyptians taking it upon themselves to clean up the debris left by days of protests. there is a civic mindeddy d dimension to this protest movement. ordinary people, they're not being paid to do this, these are volunteers, students, demonstrators who are out cleaning up the street. is somebody paying you to clean these streets. >> no, no, i'm just volunteer. i'm -- pay no money, no. >> and why are you volunteering? >> because this my country. no reasons. this my country. i want it clean. >> what is going to happen to
your country? >> i don't know but i want it better. that's all i want. to be better. and to be -- to have a -- >> after years of fear, these egyptians are no longer afraid to repeat this simple demand. they want a better government. now, wolf, thousands of people were in cairo's central tahrir square and their demonstration shifted more to a sit-in. as you mentioned, the vice president giving a televised address during which he called for dialogue with opposition parties and he said, yes, i agree. there are problems, questions that have to be addressed that have been raised by the youth. this has been very much a youth-driven movement so far of protests.
we are also hearing from an official inside the information ministry telling us that the phone, the cellular phone networks are likely to be cut off in the coming hours. the train links cut off, as well. it does seem like efforts by the government to try to stop or reduce the number of people invited to participate in what opposition groups have dubbed tomorrow's million man march. wolf? >> i just saw your tweet on that, that the phone systems, the cellular phone and mobile phone systems in egypt are about to be shut down to try to stop people from getting involved in that march. that could have the opposite effect from the egyptian government's perspective. it could em bold condition young people to go out there, given how sophisticated the egyptian mobile phone system is right now. >> reporter: well, what we saw was the cellular phone networks were shut down on friday and you had running street bats take
place between demonstrators and the police i which have now largely evaporated from the streets. we don't see them in uniform anymore except for a few traffic cops i saw today. instead, the big rallying point has become this central square, tag rear or liberation squa-- t liberation square. they're handing out flyers, photocopies and that is where you'll see posters that have been put up inviting people to participate starting at 10:00 a.m. local time in what has been dubbed a million man match. we'll have to see what's going to happen later on tuesday. >> we'll stay in touch with all of our reporters in cairo and elsewhere in egypt. we have extraordinary images just coming in showing just how tense the situation on the streets of cairo is right now. this amateur video that we're about to show you shows a confrontation between security
>> u.s. has launched around the clock efforts to airlift to evacuate americans out of egypt now saying it's evacuated more than 1,000 people today. here's the state department's spokesman, p.j. crowley. >> roughly 2600 people have contacted us by a variety of means and registereded with us that they, you know, wish to leave the country, obviously, today we've kind of put a pretty good dent in that number. obviously, that will go up, it
will fluctuate day to day as american citizens make their own decisions about whether to stay in egypt or to leave. and just a reminder, american citizens who have the ability to get out through commercial means are doing so at the same time. so we're a source of support, but you know, there are still commercial flights coming in out of cairo. >> scrambling to keep up with the events in egypt, the obama administration today brought together a group of outside experts on the middle east to discuss the situation. joining us now, michelle dunn of the carnegie endowment for international peace here in washington. thanks very much for coming in. >> pleasure. >> this was a group of experts invited to meet with whom at the white house? >> some senior officials to work on middle east on democracy issues and sort of on public affairs. >> did they think they needed outside experts, internal experts weren't enough? is that why they brought you and
your colleagues in? >> nos necessarily. i think they wanted to run through what are the messages they're delivering, do we have suggestions for how they could better articulate the u.s. point of view. >> was there a consensus that emerged in terms of what the u.s. should do next? >> i think that the outside participants thought that the administration, you know, has made progress. it's sort of gone from asking for reform and things that we're seeing as far too little to stop these demonstrations to now talking about a transition to real democracy and then we saw even later today talking about the need for the egyptian government to negotiate with the opposition. >> it was only a week ago that the secretary of state was saying that this is a stable government in egypt and then the vice president saying mubarak is not a dictator, which seemed to suggest to a lot of outside experts and probably inside experts that they were out of touch. >> that's right. their initial statements i think were sort of far behind the
curve. i don't think the administration wants to be out in front of the curve of events. it has no desire to be steering what's going on in egypt but do want to be seen to responding to what they admit are legitimate demands by the protesters. >> let me pick your brain. you said months ago this was likely to happen. i was reading your stuff. and so what should the u.s. be doing, not a week from now or a month from now, but right now. what should the president of the united states and the secretary of state be doing? >> i mean, there are a couple of key questions now. one of the key questions is whether president mubarak is it possible for him to stay on or not. >> is it? >> i think the u.s. administration does not want to be the ones calling publicly for him to step down. i think they think that's somewhat unseemly that the u.s. shouldn't do that, but there definitely should be high level private contacts going on with mubarak and with others, notably the egyptian military about how they see this shaping up and the fact they really need to respond to these protesters and not just
take half measures, for example, as mubarak did by naming a new cabinet, which did not respond at all really to what the demonstrators are asking for. >> we're hearing the administration has decided to send a former ambassador, frank wizner to, go as a special envoy to egypt. i assume he's going to meet with president mubarak with a special message. he nose frank wizner very well. he spent a lot of time in egypt. what do you think that special enjoy's message is going to be? >> i don't know what the message is going to be, but the message itself is very important. ambassador wizner is someone trusted and liked by mubarak and the others he'll be meeting with. he's a reassuring presence in that respect. he's also someone who could deliver a tough message if he's given one to deliver. >> yeah, he's been very involved in egyptian affairs over these
years since retiring from the state department as the ambassador. he's on the board of american university of cairo, as well. we'll see what happens. we'll follow that. thanks very much for coming in. >> you're welcome. >> we'll continue to talk. >> thanks. we're going to get back to what's happening in egypt in a moment. there's a major vept happening at the white house right now. dan lothian is working the story. dan, it involves the u.s. ambassador to china. tell viewers what you've learned. >> ambassador huntsman we are told by two senior administration officials he will be stepping down. a hand-delivered resignation letter was sent to mr. obama today. it takes effect on april 30th. he has played a critical role in this relationship at the united states forging with china. you might recall when he president hu was here at the white house during that press conference, a reporter asked mr. obama about the prospects of mr. huntsman running against him. it was a republican candidate in
2012. mr. obama joked i'm sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future and went on to say "i'm sure that having him work with me so well will be a great asset in any republican primary oirmt robert gibbs said it was well-known within the white house that he would be stepping down at the early part of this year. he said ever since that became known they have been looking at what would replace him. so far no word on that, wolf. >> jon huntsman, the former governor of utah. maybe a future republican presidential candidate himself deciding to step down. a good time he believes to do so. thanks very much. someone else is closely watching the situation in egypt. we're talking about bradley manning, the u.s. soefrld accused of leaking the wikileaks cable. wait till you hear the link he's making it between himself and the uprising in egypt. a federal judge knocks down a key part of the health care reform law. so what does it really mean?
noor group. the situation in egypt certainly on jack cafferty's mind. he's here with the cafferty file. >> with protesters hitting the streets for a week now, there's a growing sense of frustration that the lack of response from the united states. many points to that speech that president obama made to the world. in cairo in june of 2009. remember? at that time, he spoke about
democracy and he warned that governments cannot suppress the rights of the people. so almost two years later, these protesters would like to know why president obama's not putting his money where his mouth is and openly supporting them. it's a reasonable question. some in the middle east are going even farther. the israeli newspaper rights plu obama will be remembered as "the president who lost egypt and during whose tenure america's alliances notice middle east crumbled." the peace suggests president obama's been too cautious, sitting on the pence and either embracing the despised leaders nor preaching for democracy. but supports of the administration say that abandoning a key ally in a time of crisis would damage america's interests in that region. what kind of message would it accepted to our other allies in the middle east? also, others see egypt as a moderate force in a region of islamic extremists like iran and
they say -- meanwhile, there are signs that after 30 years, the white house is quietly preparing for a post mubarak egypt. one former official told the los angeles times, the administration recognizes it has to be on the right side of history and that it cannot try to keep mubarak in power at all costs. here's the question. what's the role of the united states when it comes to violence and political unrest in the middle east? go to cnn.com/cafferty file. post a comment on my blog. wolf? >> jack, thank you. stand by. president obama's sweeping health care reform law took a lig legal blow today. the battle looks like it could all the way to the supreme court. a second federal judge ruled key parts of the measure are, in fact, unconstitutional. let's bring in our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin in new york. it's a serious setback for the obama administration although
the justice department says it will appeal. >> and wolf, what makes this decision even worse than at last one is, the one in virginia that struck down part of the law, is this judge, roger vincent in florida said as a result of the individual mandate, the part of the law that says everyone has to buy health insurance, because he says that's unconstitutional, he says the whole law has to go out the window. he has declared the entire law unconstitutional. everything about pre-existing conditions, people staying -- kids staying on their parents' health care plans till 26. all of that is out the window if this ruling stands. >> well, it's going to take a long time before it reaches the united states supreme court. say it takes six months or a year. what happens in between? >> well, that seems to be up for debate at this moment. the white house held a conference call earlier this afternoon. and they said nothing changes. the law remains in effect
pending the -- the appeal. but in the judge's opinion, he says that he believes that the -- that the administration will not implement the law. so i think the justice department is going to have to go back to this judge or certainly to the 11th circuit court of appeals to get some clarification about what happens right now. but certainly, the main point is, that the united states supreme court has to address this law sooner rather than later. >> it will probably be obviously a split decision at the supreme court. we can be sure of that. jeffrey, thanks very much. a monster storm now barreling across account united states and has chicago squarely in its sights. that's not all. three-quarters of the country could get pounded by snow, sleet and ice. and egypt, looters have made off with priceless treasures already. what are they eyeing next?
go back live to the streets of cairo in a few moments. first, a monster storm moving across the midwest right here in the united states. lisa sylvester is here with that and some of the other top stories. >> wolf, the midwest and the northeast are bracing for the full effect of that monster storm and it could be the worst we have seen yet this winter. the massive system could dump nearly two feet of snow on chicago and pound new york and new england with more snow, sleet and ice. our meteorologists say the storm
will impact three-quarter of the country and could be a three-day event. the des trout family of a former pentagon official found dead in a landfill is offering $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of his killer. the delaware medical examiner's office says john wheeler was beaten to death. his body was discovered on new year's eve by a sanitation worker. astronaut mark kelley will decide whether or not he will command nasa's final space shuttle launch. he has been at the bedside of his wife congresswoman gabrielle giffords since she was shot in the horrific shooting rampage. space shuttle "endeavour" is scheduled to go to the international space station in april. uncle sam wants you to who would the salt. the federal government is unveiling no dietary guidelines that recommend people over age 50 and those with diabetes, kidney problems or hypertension limit daily salt intake to just
half a teaspoon. everyone else should tick stick with one teaspoon a day. you're healthy. it looks like su limit your salt. >> it's already got so much salt to begin with. >> that's just me. >> healthy guy. like i said. >> you're healthy too. >> you're pretty trim too. >> thank you. is the chaos in egypt. it's not just in cairo. alexandria also a hot bed of unrest. why lots of people are deeply worried about egypt's border with gaza as well. why is bradley manning, accused of leaking all the wikileaks cables watching an the situation in egypt so closely? a close friend of his talks to cnn. ka: i'shopping for my first car. gecko: nice! i do hopchse geit i bet yod great in a bl ofcar.h... atol is th kate: no...actually, i'm torn between a fuel-injected inline-6 and a higher torque quandary!esel.cko: yeahq um in course you could save either way.
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hundreds of american citizens have starred to make it out of egypt. the u.s. has begun around the clock evacuations. and officials are hoping to fly some 2,000 people to safety by this time tomorrow. official video today shows president mubarak meeting with his new cabinet, but there's speculation on his whereabouts. some suggesting he's in the red sea resort of sharm el sheikh reportedly convinced he's taken refuse, at least some say there. egypt's chaos is not confined to cairo. forces are on the streets of alexandria. one of two locations where the
so-called million man protest movement is being organized for tomorrow. those massive demonstrations are planned -- planned to begin just hours from now. let's go live to our senior international correspondent, nic robertson in alexandria joining with us more. what's the latest, nick? >> reporter: well, wolf, the latest here is that we're seeing the army patrolling the streets more than they have done over the past couple evenings. we know that the government is trying to head off this million man march by closing down the phone networks as they did on tried and thwart the big protests on friday. the thing we're seeing in this city that the demonstrators are doing differently that make it more difficult to control them is they have protests in different parts of the city. it almost doesn't matter which area, which neighborhood you go into. you'll find a protest marching down a street in one direction, then another. also gathered in the central
liberation square martyr's square in the center of the city. that square is right at the end of the rail network. there are rumors the railway system will be shut down as well to try and stop people getting into the protest. it seems the army is stepping up efforts to have a better idea what's going on in the city where and when. >> based on your eyewitness account, have you seen a shift in the relationship between the protesters in alexandria and the egyptian military? we're talking about the army. has there been a change over the past 24 hours? >> you know, we saw the army here just drive past this hotel about maybe eight or nine hours ago shooting a heavy caliber machine gun in the air, trying to scare protesters away from the square behind me here. that was the first evidence we've seen where the army appeared to sort of challenge
the protesters is on the ground. firing in the air, not firing at them. it had the desired job of chasing them away. when you talk to the people, they see the army in two very clear ways, soldiers, low everything raing soldiers they say those soldiers are on our side. we've seen it ourselves. they're much more friendly to the people. it's the senior officers that people here think are still tloil president mubarak. and they have concerns that. >> all right. looks like we just lost that satellite connection with nick. we'll be in touch with him. the mubarak regime has cooperated with the zeals and the united states to keep the peace. egypt is counted on to keep weapons out of gaza which is controlled by hamas. hamas viewed by the u.s. and israeli government as a terror organization. egypt says it has blocked dozens of border tunnels. they're big enough to you smuggle live stock. israel says weapons and rocket
parts still reach gaza. what happens if egypt stops policing its border? three years ago when israel responded to rocket fire by sealing off gaza, palestinians blew holes in the border fence, thousands of desperate people poured across while egyptian guars watched. of all of egypt's neighbors, israel must be watching with the most concern right now after several wars, egypt became the first arab nation to make peace with israel back in 1979. that peace has held ever since. israelis right now are deeply worried about what happens next. let's go to jerusalem. fionnuala sweeney is join us live. the prime minister of israel net taia hugh spoke out today. what did he say? >> it was the first time that a government official had gone on camera and publicly made a statement. he spoke yesterday at a cabinet meeting but elaborated somewhat today after a meeting with
angela merkel. he said how ejupt handles this situation would have an impact on the security of israel. and then he went on to draw a comparison with the revolution in iran and said that the situation was extremely dynamic and fluid and that led him on to directly compare what is happening in egypt with what happened in tehran in 1979. >> translator: what may develop and in fact has already developed in a number of countries, including iran itself, is that they have oppressive regimes in the form of extremist islam and certainly suppressing human rights and trampling them in the dust. they're not allowing any treem, no rights whatsoever. these regimes constitute a dangering to peace and stability of all civilized people. >> reporter: it the israeli prime minister refusing to comment on his preference for any potential post-mubarak
situation in egypt but essentially saying israel was watching is the situation extremely closely and urging egypt to open dialogue with the protesters and to allow them freedom of expression. >> i know the israelis have a very good relationship with the new vice president of egypt, omar sil iman. do they want mubarak to step down and hand over power, the israelis? >> israel would be in favor of democracy. in terms of hosni mubarak, he has kept the peace particularly around gaza by patrolling it securely and doing a lot of the work as far as the israelis are concerned. it is a situation for israel, better the devil you know. benjamin netanyahu saying he wouldn't go into any possible post-mubarak situation but said because the situation was so fluid, that his fear was that if change happened too quickly without the structures in place for democracy, that that could center an impact on israel's
security your. >> fionnuala sweeney reporting for us from jerusalem. the army soldier suspected of telling all to wikileaks gets one hour of television a day in a detention center. guess what he's watching? we'll give you a clue, it's egypt. thousands of tourists flee egypt amid all the chaos going on. the ancient treasures that lured them there in the first place may now be in danger. not if you get allstate accident forgiveness. it starts the day you sign up. dollar for dollar, nobody protects you like allstate. i've been looking at the numbers, and i think our campus is spending too much money on printing. i'd like to put you in charge of cutting costs. calm down. i know that it is not your job. what i'm saying... excuse me? alright, fine. no, you don't have to do it. ok? [ male announcer ] notre dame knows it's better for xerox to control its printing costs. so they can focus on winning on and off the field.
now, a fascinating link to tell you about. we're learning that the u.s. army private suspected of divulging top secret information to wikileaks believes he may be responsible for the protests and the unrest we're seeing in egypt right now. apparently, he's happy about it. our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence is joining us now with details. i'm not sure it was exactly top secret but it was secret information that he was providing allegedly to wikileaks. what's going on here, chris? >> we know these wikileaks cables were read in egypt. you know, they concerned egypt. went into detail about some of the messages that were being passed between the u.s. and egyptian governments. and private manning, he has not been convicted of anything. but he has been charged. and one of his friends visited him in his detention center in the brig in quantico and says
manning has been using his one hour a day he's allowed to watch tv to keep very close tabs on what he can on what's going on in egypt. >> that was yesterday talking to bradley manning. we talked for 2 1/2 hours. tunisia and egypt were a large part of our conversation. >> you got a sense he felt a real connection to what is going on there. >> events happening are exactly exactly in line with what he views the internet as a powerful force for democracy. as a social force that can unite people and outsmart tyrannical regimes. this is why he believes the egyptian government had unplugged the internet in egypt in order to prevent this young class of people from rapidly organizing. >> some leaked cables show that behind the scenes the u.s. state department was supporting a pro
democracy advocate pushing for the release of some of the dissidents being imprisoned. all of this was read in egypt and looked as the as a sign possibly of what support maybe they could expect from the united states government. >> interesting stuff. chris, thank you. a king tut statue is smashed to pieces and tossed on the ground. looters is steal some of egypts priceless artifacts dating back thousands of years. now egypt's army is stepping in to protect what some call the greatest open air museum in the world. military propaganda from china or an all too familiar movie moment.
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of the world's most priceless treasures now facing danger in egypt. looter have already damaged a statue of king tut and carted off ancient artifacts. now many of egypt's museums are frightened they could be targeted next. let's go to cnn's mary snow working the story for us. what do you know, pare? >> egypt's supreme council of antiquities said the country's major archaeological sites and museums are being prek the by the army. the top antiquities official wrote in a blog my heart is broken and my blood is boiling after reporting ten looters got into the cairo museum. he and many others are hoping national pride willpect the priceless artifacts. soldiers stand guard outside the egyptian museum in cairo, home to thousands of treasures. looters entered the museum on
friday night. thomas campbell is director of the new york metropolitan museum which has close ties to egypt. >> anyone who's had the privilege of visiting the museum will recognize it's one of the most significant collections in the world. so seeing dang to his artifacts is deeply troubling. >> reporter: for many, the images were a flashback to artifacts destroyed in iraq in 2003. >> i think that's the thought that went through everyone's mind. >> he says the situation appears to be different than what happened in iraq. in cairo, the antiquities chief reported over the weekend, the museum was safe and that the damage was linged to a group of criminals apparently looking for gold. then came images of civilians guarding the museum along with the military. egyptologists like bob breyer who says he's visited the museum more than 100 times are now trying to assess the damage. >> it's not just abstract objects. we know these pieces and stood in front of the cases and talked about them to students and now to see them lying on the floor
smashed is horrible. >> of the items is damaged, the chief says looters broke 13 glass showcases. among the artifacts damaged is a statue from king tut's tomb dating back more than 3,000 years. >> what are we looking at here? >> this is another to you tan comen object. it's a panther. this is the big base it was on and standing on top of the panther tut. >> despite fears throughout egypt, there is hope in seeing civilians protecting these treasures. >> it's extremely moving and symbolizes the great value that the egyptian population place on their cultural heritage. they are the guardians of a heritage that is significant for the world. >> as you can imagine, egyptologists are expressing concern what's to come in the next few days, entirely at
monuments, archaeological sites outside cairo. >> mary, thanks very much. let's hope for the best. let's talk to two women just back in the united states. they had been in egypt. marian gerges and michaela just landed at jfk. how hard was it to get out of egypt duringthus tumultious days? marion, can you hear me? >> i mean, me and michaela were pretty lucky because we were part of a tour group. i can hear you. can you hear news. >> go ahead, tell us how hard it was to get out. >> hello. once we got to the airport, it was crazy. people were on the floor sleeping. people were on the line trying to get through and buy tickets to get out of cairo. but we were actually pretty lucky because we came part of a tour group. we checked in, took us about
what, two hours to check in maybe. >> yeah. >> he about two hours to check in. >> anyone who wasn't in a tour group had a difficult time though not getting through. >> right. and we heard that our flight was one of the only flights flying out of the airport. we're not sure how true that is. we got lucky to get out. >> and mick kayla, did you see any of the protesters while you were there? i know you were in cairo and went to luxor. what did you see? >> yeah. well, when we were flying back to cairo to, you know, take part of our tour, we got trapped at the airport because they were having curfew. we were stuck there till about 2:00 in the morning. then had he had to transfer us to a different hotel because we were staying at safir hotel about two blocks from the museum. so we lucked out. we weren't in the middle of it, but we stayed at the rad son blue instead. there were some locals out there
that were standing guard with, you know, large sticks, metal rods, bats, blockading the streets. just, you know, they were taking precautions thinking they might do damage and kept everyone in the hotel rooms telling us not to leave. it appeared they were just protecting their property from anyone who might be looting. >> we're happy you guys are back. i'm sure your families are a lot happier than we are. thanks for coming in, marion and mikaela. should the u.s. take a more active role what's happening in egypt and the middle east? you're telling what you think to jack cafferty. the cafferty file coming up. and china shows off its military might. why is it more like a scene from a hollywood blockbuster, literally?
let's get back to jack for the cafferty file. jack? the question this hour, wolf, is what is the u.s. role when it comes to violence and political unrest in the middle east? lou writes, there's always been conflict in the mideast. we will continue to be affected as long as we are so depend won't their oil. our sputnik moment should be making a car that can run on anything but oil. think of the peace we could have if we weren't always trying to pacify some oil-rich dictator. another says, "to stay out of
their business, we've spent billions and billions on kruccot governments, and for what? the people of these countries know nothing about our generosity, don't care about it, and end up hating us. and p. if from pennsylvania the u.s. should be careful not to choose sides but support a more democratic government that gives the people more rights and freedom than they have now. the u.s. has to walk a fine line when doing. this you have to watch what you say or do the family's likely to turn against you. j.d. writes, the role of the u.s. in an unstable middle east is to be the right side of history. these days that means giving moral support to a down-trodden populace, trying to oust a ruthless dictator, while giving the same dictator financial support to maintain a military for the purpose of putting down his enemies. it's a brilliant policy, really, in its simplicitiy. being on both sides of history always guarantees that you'll come out on the right side.
kathy writes, it's past time for us to stop sticking or noses into anybody else's business. how would wea feel if another country tried to interfere in our affairs? peter in terrytown says, it's time for the u.s. to fish or cut bait. either we support democracy, civil and human rights, and oppose dictatorial countries, or we don't. we have the opportunity to back the citizens of egypt or look like hypocrites. what do we stand for if we don't support the citizenry of egypt now? if you want to read more, you'll find it on cnn.com/caffertyfile. >> i think a bunch of leaders in the are nervous now seeing what happened in tunisiaa. what looks like could happen in egypt. if you're a leader of one of those countries, you're getting a little antsy. >> well, there's stirrings apparently in jordan, krebltcor? little noises being made here and there. yes, these are iron-fisted folks who don't allow people room to do much of anything.
if they see mubarak go, what is the old shakespeare line -- he who wears the crown sleeps uneasily at night? i butchered that pretty good, but it's something like that. >> something like that. you were close. john mccain, thank you very much. -- jack, thank you very much. we have sad news. a beloved talented cameraman jerry thompson died over the weekend after a battle with brain cancer. he worked at cnn for over 25 years covering some of the most important stories. many viewers may not know his name but have literally watched history from jerry's shoulder. he air for he was a quiet pro who was determined to get it right through his dedication. he was a key part in many news events that we've covered. he leaves behind his loving wife inez and their three sons. our hearts and prayers go out to jerry thompson's family. we will miss him. a city comes to life.
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here's a look at the hot shots. in gatt mall aindigenous people take part in a mayan ritual to commemorate their civil war. if kazakhstan, assistants prepare for an awards ceremony at the asian winter games. in paraguay, a cowboy rides a bull during a traditional festival. outside a million in beijing, a girl -- a mall in beijing, a girl stands next to a
statue representing the year of the rabbit. hot shots. chinese propaganda or a "top gun" movie moment? jeanne moos has this blast from the past. >> reporter: take off those sunglasses, tom cruise, and look where you may have ended up. china's state television, cctv, was showing a training drill -- chinese fighter planes doing maneuvers. but someone on line noticed that missile strike looked awfully familiar. >> there's the shot! >> reporter: that sure looks like the final dogfight in the movie "top gun." omg. tom cruise has defected, said one post. the "wall street journal" grabbed the footage before it was taken down from the cctv web site and slow-mo'd it to show the debris patterns matched. maybe cctv just needed a glitzy shot fast. >> i feel the need -- the need
for speed! >> reporter: cctv did not feel the need for speed when we asked for comment, but gave a no comment to others. "top gun" backfiring on the chinese reminds us of another doctored missile photo that blew up on the iranians. iran's revolutionary guard's web site first published a shot of four missiles going up. then bloggers noticed one of the four seemed to be a composite of the others. the iranians later updated the shot showing three missiles, one theory was they put in an extra missile to cover up a dud. at the time, cnn did its own demo. >> we put this picture in photoshop to short of show you how easy it is. smoke from the bottom of another missile over here, which it looks like they did because this cloud matches over here. and then you just grab up here, some of the missile there and you sort of add that in. >> reporter: even if it doesn't add up, these days you can't believe your eyeballs even when